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Catamounts Take Series Opener over Appalachian, 8-6

Preston Hatcher improved to 6-0 on the season with the victory in relief in game one on Friday afternoon. (Photo by Ashley Evans)

May 18, 2012

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Cullowhee, N.C. - After surrendering the 5-0 lead it took into Friday's completion of the Thursday night's suspended game, Western Carolina rallied with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to surge past archrival Appalachian State, 8-6, Friday afternoon in Southern Conference action at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.

WCU used a five-run bottom of the fourth inning prior to the first of two lengthy weather delays to take a 5-0 advantage on Thursday night which was halted in the top of the seventh inning. Appalachian State wasted little time once the game resumed Friday afternoon, matching the Catamounts five-spot in that top of the seventh to knot the game.

ASU manufactured the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning on a Preston Troutman double down the left field line to take a 6-5 lead.

In the decisive home half of the ninth, Ross Heffley doubled to right center before advancing to third on a two-out wild pitch. Adam Martin extended the inning by drawing a walk on a six-pitch walk ahead of Julian Ridings who doubled down the right field line to plate Heffley, tying the game at six.

The Catamounts would see the bases loaded as Dykota Spiess was plunked by a pitch. The next batter, freshman Bradley Strong, then singled sharply up the middle where ASU second baseman Hector Crespo was only able to deflect the ball into shallow center, driving in two runs for the 8-6 advantage.

WCU worked a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the ninth with a pair of pop-up foul outs to first baseman Tyler White and a routine fly ball to right field.

Catamount closer Preston Hatcher (6-0) had to come on to stop the Mountaineers' seventh inning rally, tossing the final two and a third innings to pick up the victory. Hatcher surrendered one run on four hits with a pair of strikeouts. ASU reliever Jamie Nunn (5-1) took the loss after surrendering two runs on one hit in a third of an inning.

On Thursday night, WCU starting pitcher Jordan Smith retired the first nine batters en route to throwing five hitless innings before the first weather delay of the evening which lasted an hour and 37 minutes. Appalachian State picked up its first hit in the top of the sixth when play resumed. There would be one more scoreless inning before lightning and rain would ultimately postpone the conclusion of game one until Friday with play resuming at 4:00 p.m.

Smith finished with six innings in the start, holding ASU to one run which scored as an inherited runner on Friday with just three hits with three strikeouts. WCU also tossed left-hander Jon Nadale and righty Darron Dotson before getting to Hatcher.

The Catamounts jumped on the board first with Heffley's team-leading eighth home run of the season, clearing the left field fence for the early advantage. Tyler White legged out two bases off a single by Adam Martin before scoring on a bunt attempt by Julian Ridings. On the play, ASU starting pitcher Ryan Arrowood threw the ball over the catcher's head while attempting to throw out White at the plate, advancing Martin to third. Dykota Spiess would add a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Martin to lead, 3-0.

The last two runs involved Strong as the rookie delivered a RBI single to drive in a run, and later, a wild pitch that allowed Strong to cross the late from third.

Strong finished the game 3-for-4 with three singles and an RBI to pace the Catamounts while Heffley was 2-for-4 with a solo home run and a double.

For the Mountaineers, Will Callaway was 2-for-5 with two RBI and Preston Troutman posted a 2-for-4, two RBI performance. ASU starting pitcher Ryan Arrowood factored in the no-decision, finishing with five runs allowed on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.